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CHUNICHI SHIMBUN // THE JAPAN TIMES

Now You Can Eat Crackers Made of Giant Isopods

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CHUNICHI SHIMBUN // THE JAPAN TIMES

Not sure what to feed the adventurous foodie who’s tried everything from bugs to rotted shark meat? Three Japanese businessmen have an idea for you: Crackers made from Bathynomus giganteus—a.k.a. the creepy-but-also-kinda-cute giant isopod.

It all started when a TV celebrity came aboard Kazutaka Hasegawa's boat to do an interview. The fisherman, who caught hagfish, often pulled up giant isopods as bycatch and would toss them back into the ocean. But when the celebrity asked if the isopod was edible, Hasegawa decided to roast it. Not surprisingly, the crustacean—which is related to the terrestrial pillbug—tasted like shrimp and crab.

Not long after, Hasegawa met Satoshi Yamamoto, of the Tokyo-based advertising agency Ozone Network Co., who was hoping Hasegawa could provide fried isopods for a deep sea-themed New Years' bash. After their meeting, Yamamoto brought prawn senbi to take home to Tokyo—and realized that it might be easier for people to buy and eat giant isopods if they were in cracker form. He reached out to Kiichiro Isobe, sales manager of Yamaki Kaisan, a company that makes prawn crackers, and the trio decided to try to turn giant isopods into crackers.

They began experimenting in January, and at first, things didn't go so well, according to The Japan Times:

First they tried crushing them into powder without adding any flavor. This was not a success. Because the bugs are omnivorous the smell of their organs was simply too pungent.

Eventually, though, the trio figured out the right ratio of seasonings to powdered isopod to make some very tasty crackers, which are now available at rest stops, gift shops, and aquariums across the country. A dozen crackers cost ¥1,620, or $260; the first run of 3500 boxes sold out in just a month.

Hasegawa is hopeful the crackers will take off. “I don’t want this to be just a fad,” he told The Japan Times. “I want to make this a Yaizu specialty.”

[h/t io9]

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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